Book by Book: My December 2018 Reads

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The last month of the year — yay! I crossed the finish line of my 2018 reading goal of 150 books this month just in the nick of time, hitting a total of 152. That’s one book less than last year, and you better believe I seriously wanted to spend NYE rushing through another book (or two) just to change that… but oh well. I’m sticking with 150 books as my goal for this year, too — it keeps me just motivated enough without feeling too overwhelmed!

But before we get to new books in 2019…

HERE'S WHAT I READ IN DECEMBER:


True Colors by Kristin Hannah

MY RATING: 4/5

MY REVIEW: I’ve pretty much determined Kristin Hannah can do no wrong. After living The Nightingale and The Great Alone, I wanted to go back and read some of her other books, and this one did not disappoint! The cover is misleading in that this one had very little to do with water (and seashells?!) and a lot to do with horses and ranches and rodeos and romances... Anyway... It was a bit slow to get going but once it did, it flew by and was a moving story of relationships, sisterhood, hope, the court/prison system, racism, and family. I wouldn’t say it was my favorite Hannah novel (Nightingale still wins!) but it got 4/5 stars from me!


The Wondering Years: How Pop Culture Helped Me Answer Life’s Biggest Questions by Knox McCoy

MY RATING: 2/5

MY REVIEW: I was curious about this one because I’m a fan of @knoxmccoyfrom @thepopcast and @thebiblebinge, but honestly... I am not “pop-cultures” enough to truly appreciate the art of this one. I was pretty sheltered as a kid and was a 90s baby so most of his references and stories and analogies went straight over my head sadly. That’s not to say this wasn’t well written, funny, or worth reading— it just wasn’t one I personally could connect with! If you’re a movie buff or a little older than I am or you looooove all things pop culture and find them interesting points of references for bigger questions of humanity, life, and faith, you will LOVE this one. I’m so glad he wrote it, especially for those people, and I can’t wait to pass this on to a friend who I know loves this stuff.

THANKS TO: Thanks for the free book, @booklookbloggers!


One Day in December by Josie Silver

MY RATING: 4/5

MY REVIEW: I really, really enjoyed this one. It’s totally my kind of love story — slightly predictable but endearing anyway (and with enough surprises to keep in interesting), a great meet cute, a strong female best friendship, a few emotional moments, male love interests with actual flaws and annoying moments... overall, a charming and cozy read perfect for this time of year. Now, when will this be a Netflix original movie?!

THANKS TO: Thanks for the free book, @crownpublishing!


Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

MY RATING: 3/5

MY REVIEW: Grabbed this one randomly at a book sale recently and after hearing my roommate say she enjoyed it, I flew through it this weekend. It’s VERY character driven and focuses on a short window of time in one suburban neighborhood where some drama occurs and all the neighbors react and cope as a community. It’s not heavy or intense but super relationship focused (and marriage/family centric) and sort of felt like a more tame episode of Desperate Housewives in a way. If the lives behind the scenes of suburban moms and wives fascinates you (or maybe you are one and you want to commiserate and relate), you’d enjoy this one!


The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

MY RATING: 4/5

MY REVIEW: I was a big fan of The Wedding Date and just as much a fan of this one — Guillory writes such fun, sparkling, real, delightful love stories with characters that aren’t just stereotypes, and I love it. Flew through this one in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it!


The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

MY RATING: 4/5

MY REVIEW: Went in expecting chick lit, soon realized it was very much a sexy, steamy romance instead! Not my usual genre but a really fun read— loved the unique characters with realistic traits (Asperger’s and anxiety and the like) and the slightly predictable but still charming ending.


The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle

MY RATING: 5/5

MY REVIEW: Our team at work read this together for book club over the last few months, and I really loved it. Such a helpful look at teams, organizations, creativity, leadership, and strengthening individuals and groups to be truly successful in what matters most. It was a really enjoyable read with lots of fun anecdotes and applicable examples (like from Pixar, the Navy Seals, etc). It provided great launching points for team discussions too, so it made an excellent work book club choice! Highly recommend this one if you’re a leader of any kind, if you’re driven to create meaningful change in your workplace or your team, or if you just find success stories and coaching helpful.


As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

MY RATING: 3/5

MY REVIEW: This one was a great Christmas weekend read, but not my favorite from this author. After loving Secrets of a Charmed Life and Bridge Across the Ocean, I thought I would feel the same about this one, but it didn’t have the same spark to me. It felt suuuuuper slow for more than the first half, but I liked the changing character perspectives and could tell something was bound to make things interesting at some point, so I stuck with it. Part two felt really rushed and like all the action got crammed into the ending without a lot of exploration, and it was a bit disappointing. I wanted so much more from this one!


The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

MY RATING: 5/5

MY REVIEW: I don’t know what took me so long to read this one! It blew me away. Such beautiful character development, such incredible writing, such a dynamic character, such an honest look at life and sexuality and relationships and hardship... gahhhh SO GOOD. Flew through all 500+ pages in two days because I just couldn’t put it down!


Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

MY RATING: 4/5

MY REVIEW: This was a delightful and heartwarming read — sentimental in the story and unique in the writing style. I read it in one sitting and found myself feeling emotional as I finished, loving the father/daughter dynamic and imagining the pain of loving someone who is losing their memory. This one was a great finale to my 2018 reading!


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